Belfast Telegraph

Unionist pressure mounts on Sinn Fein over O Muilleoir

By Suzanne Breen

DUP MP Sammy Wilson has called on Sinn Fein MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir to resign for the hurt he caused the Kingsmill victims by retweeting Barry McElduff's video stunt.

Mr McElduff quit as West Tyrone MP 10 days after tweeting a video posing with a Kingsmill loaf on the 42nd anniversary of the massacre of the same name.

Ten innocent Protestant workmen were killed in the sectarian shooting by republicans on a rural road in south Armagh.

Mr Wilson claimed Mr O Muilleoir was always quick to point the finger at others and should step aside.

The East Antrim MP said that as a "newspaper owner and a prolific user of social media", the South Belfast MLA should have known how the video would be interpreted.

"Being told to be careful about how he uses social media in the future is no proper response to his actions.

"O Muilleoir should not be allowed by Sinn Fein or the public to get away by hiding behind McElduff's resignation.

"He has demanded punishment for others plenty of times in the past.

"He must be treated in accordance with the standards he demands of others - he must go."

The Ulster Unionists called on Sinn Fein to take "meaningful action" against Mr O Muilleoir for retweeting the video.

UUP MLA Steve Aiken said Mr McElduff's resignation was not "the end of this matter" and Mr O Muilleoir should be disciplined.

In a Belfast Telegraph online opinion poll asking the public what they think Mr O Muilleoir should do, 65% thought he should resign.

Another 10% believed he should explain why he retweeted the video, and 4% said Sinn Fein should suspend him.

Republican sources said the South Belfast MLA would not be stepping down and was under no pressure from Sinn Fein to do so.

Mr O Muilleoir has apologised for retweeting the video.

In a statement he said: "I saw Barry's tweet as being wholly apolitical and retweeted it on that basis.

"Once it was pointed out that the tweet had offended and hurt people and that Barry had rightly deleted his tweet I retweeted his apology and, of course, apologise unreservedly for the pain and hurt caused by my retweet."

But Mr Aiken said that wasn't enough.

"Now that Barry McElduff has finally done what he should have done more than a week ago, and announced his intention to step down as the MP for West Tyrone, attention must now turn to Martin O'Muilleoir, who chose to retweet the appalling and offensive video," he said.

"Barry McElduff referred to 'the deep and unnecessary hurt that this video has caused to the families of the victims of Kingsmill'.

"He has paid the price for his actions and has gone, yet his colleague Mairtin O'Muilleoir, who retweeted the video, has thus far escaped censure and indeed has been uncharacteristically quiet in the past week."

The South Antrim MLA continued: "I'm sure the public would like to know just how someone who once liked to style himself as being amongst the 'bright side of the road people' thought it was a good idea to retweet such an offensive video.

"Michelle O'Neill must not think that the departure of Barry McElduff is the end of this matter. If she is remotely interested in 'equality, rights and respect' then she needs to take meaningful action against her South Belfast MLA."

Speaking to the media earlier, Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill said she had spoken with Mr O Muilleoir and he needed to "consider his social media use". She added: "He needs to be more responsible in his social media use and that is the matter dealt with." But Mr Aiken said: "Barry McElduff has resigned over the video he created, so what punishment is being applied to Mairtin O'Muilleoir, who chose to retweet it?

"A mere warning to be 'more responsible' on social media simply will not cut it."

TUV leader Jim Allister has called on the Sinn Fein MLA to stand down. "Though McElduff has belatedly done the right thing, what about Mairtin O Muilleoir, who thought it appropriate to approvingly retweet the video?" he said.

"If it is right for McElduff to resign - and it is - then let sincerity, not expediency, be demonstrated by O Muilleoir following suit."

Sinn Fein has said it accepts the South Belfast MLA's explanation for his retweet and no further action is needed.

Belfast Telegraph

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